Four September 2019 LA & OC Writing Workshops To
Help You Write BetterRaise More in Quarter Four
Whether you raise major gifts face-to-face or speak to groups . . .  whether you create direct mail letters, grant proposals, or online content—each task begins with writingDr. Frank Dickerson's multivariate computer analysis of 1.5 million words in 2,412 fund appeals discovered five patterns that compromised their effectiveness. He discovered that the typical fund appeal:

Do You Make These Five Fatal Mistakes When You Write a Fund Appeal?

​​What Tech Leaders Say About The Declining Effectiveness of Digital Appeals

Blackbaud concedes that "Every astute fundraiser will note that direct mail brings in eight or nine times more money than email each year. Email giving represents about 8% of all donations to nonprofits. Those who report giving through an email appeal remains small (only 14%) and has not budged from 2013. It is clear that direct mail giving is still responsible for the overwhelming majority of fund-raising revenue, and organizations must find ways to optimize multi-channel giving versus hyper-focusing on Internet giving alone."

M+R concludes that "at the prevailing 0.0006 response rate to online campaigns, a nonprofit has to email 1,667 recipients just to generate a single donation."

The Views of Thought Leaders Suggest A Way Forward In Light of These Trends

Herschell Gordon Lewis observed: "click-through rates for Facebook ads are an almost inconceivably small 1/20 of 1 percent [0.0005]. That’s one response per 2,000 message-recipients. It doesn’t begin to compete with even the weakest conventional medium."

Maya Gasuk, who led Cornell University’s annual giving for ten years, said: "People can get easily distracted by shiny objects like Facebook and other social media tools. There’s a tendency to think the next new thing will solve all of our problems. But at the end of the day, it’s all about a conversation with donors. The core of what we do is relationship building and asking."

Sherry Minton of American Heart Association told the Direct Marketing Association’s Nonprofit Federation National Conference:

“Handwritten mail to $10+ donors increased response 100%. Significantly more donors made a second gift [yielding] greater lifetime value from early second gift donors.”

Beth Athanassiades of CARE told The Chronicle of Philanthropy that a hand-personalized note card fund appeal mailed to donors who gave $50 or more but hadn't given in 11 months "typically prompts 9 percent of recipients to give an average donation of $41.”

Mal Warwick, founder of what is now the MWD agency, described two direct mail campaigns that were personalized with handwriting: "One campaign increased response from 0.87% to 3.0% (a 244% lift) and a second increased response from 2.6% to 9% (a 246% lift)."

Dirk Rinker, president of Campbell Rinker, a marketing research firm, concluded that "donors are 3 times likelier to give online in response to direct mail than to an e-appeal."

​The Implication of These Trends For Leaders of Nonprofit Organizations

Joan Smyth-Dengler, Covenant House's Vice President, characterized the synergy possible when direct mail and digital outreach are combined: "Our experience is that email combined with direct mail is like getting a catalog from J. Crew and going online to order."

Bottom Line: Combining traditional direct mail with online communication maximizes fund-raising results. But given that it takes 1,667 emails to get one reply, direct mail clearly remains the superior and indispensable medium for annual giving campaigns.

New York Journal reported on June 2, 1897 that Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) had died in London. The problem with that report was that it wasn't true. Mark Twain was very much alive and responded to the inaccurate news of his demise: "The report of my death was an exaggeration."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Click Here To Download

The same can be said about direct mail. In light of plummeting response to digital fund appeals, it would

seem that reports of direct mail's death have been greatly exaggerated and its strategic importance

is actually rising. This workshop will also show how direct mail can supplement online fund-raising efforts.

In addition to effective writing, tests show how manipulating visual design factors can also boost response.

Manipulating the appearance of direct mail affected response rates in a 50,000-piece A/B test mailing that

the American Heart Association eventually rolled out to 1,077,067 households. Testing found that what a

smile, tone of voice, and gestures add to the content of speech, personalizing mail with handwriting added a

personal touch to mail that increased response 346%. Download this dissertation excerpt to learn more:

It doesn't matter what your message is . . . if it doesn't get opened

It doesn't matter that your message gets opened . . . if it doesn't get read

It doesn't matter that your message gets read . . . if it fails to ask for a gift

Click Brochure Image To Download:

The Narrative FundRaising Seminar is a practical how-to writing workshop

You'll learn how to get your appeals opened, get them readand get a response



For more information: Call: 888-444-4868  | Email: | Mail: 7412 Club View Dr Highland, CA 92346

●    10 rhetorical superstructures of the connecting narrative moment—the heart and soul of a fund appeal
●    23 linguistic features of personal emotional connection—words that make an appeal read like a coversation sounds
●    6 linguistic features of obfuscation to avoid—words and structures that create dense, tangled, detached prose
●    6 linguistic substructures of narrative—the story materials used to build the connecting narrative moment
●    5 visual language factors that add to text what a smile adds to speech—how paralanguage 
lifted response 346%

●    Reads more like an academic paper than a conversation—preferring abstract concepts over making a human connection 
●    Has fewer narrative linguistic features and rhetorical structures than an official document—high exposition/low dialogue
●    Lacks the three types of characters needed to build a story—protagonists, antagonists, and ensemble cast members
●    Fails to create tension with events, dialogue and imagery—doesn't make a reader scared, sad, glad or mad enough to act 
●    Neglects to offer the leading role of hero to a donor—doesn't show how their gift can bring resolution to a nonprofit's story

Beyond theory to practice . . . at this workshop, you'll learn how to avoid these problems by applying what you learn. You will write copy, read aloud what you write, and then get feedback on how you applied the principles that were taught:

This Workshop Can Help You Plan Your Fourth-Quarter Fund-Raising Now

Four September 2019 Seminars:To reserve your seat, click "Register for Seminar" tab

  • Thursday, September 5: The Westin Pasadena | 191 North Los Robles | Pasadena, CA 91101 MAP
  • Monday, September 9: California Community Foundation |  221 S Figueroa St, Ste 400 | Los Angeles, CA 90012 MAP
  • Thursday, September 12: Hotel Irvine | 17900 Jamboree Rd | Irvine, CA  92614 MAP
  • Thursday, September 19: USC Hotel (formerly Radisson) |  3540 S Figueroa St ​| Los Angeles, CA 90007 MAP

​​As a freshman at The Ohio State University in 1969, I remember the day the Buckeyes beat OJ Simpson's USC Trojans in the Rosebowl.
Woody Hayes, then head coach, had written a book titled Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust. That title captured the severe intentionality that marked his coaching. The Buckeyes usually scored whenever it was fourth and goal to go. But that didn't just happen. Woody was a military historian and drilled the basics into his team as if the offensive line were soldiers in a life-or-death battle. Even if you're not a sports fan, this mixed metaphor is useful. From October to December, leaders in the nonprofit sector must be intentional since most raise most of their income in the fall. The following indicates that the third quarter truly is fourth and goal to goConsider these sobering statistics:

  • About a third (31%) of giving to nonprofit organizations occurs during the month of December.
  • And more than a third of that third (12%)is contributed during between December 29-31. So it's wise to give a last push to the goal!
  • But the majority of nonprofit organizations (53.8%) fail to even start thinking about their year-end appeal strategy until October!
  • The most popular months for year-end appeals are November (46.2%) and December (30.8%). It's never too late to take action.
  • More than a quarter of nonprofits (28%)raise 26% to 50% of their annual funds through their fourth-quarter appeals.
  • But more than a third of nonprofits (36%) raise less than 10% of their annual funds from their year-end appeals.

A steward manages the resources she or he has been given. Stewardship for a nonprofit leader means he or she must use part of those resources to raise even more. Funds not only allow a nonprofit to better serve their purpose but also to ensure their organization survives to serve another day. The datapoint above indicating that more than a third of nonprofits raise less than 10% of their annual funds through their year-end appeals is disturbing. It shows that a third of nonprofits are sitting idle during what we who grew up in the Mid-
west call harvesttime. Or as my Woody Hayes mixed metaphor of football and battle put it, when it's fourth and goal to go it's time to act!

This seminar will equip you with the knowledge and practical skills needed to . . .

● Craft a story-driven fund appeal that will grab attention in line one and keep the reader reading

● Show (versus tell about) one particular conflict someone your organization serves has encountered

Portray that conflict in vivid images in the context of a story plotted with a beginning, middle, and end

Offer the reader the chance to cast him- or herself in the leading role of hero in the story told by giving

$225 (Lunch & Parking not included)

Lunch:If you wish to join other participants for lunch (12:00-12:45) you may pre-order a meal in the morning
Schedule: 9 am - 4 pm | Lunch 12:00 - 12:45 pm | Free Briefing: 4:15 pm - 5 pm (for those unable to attend seminar)
To Register: Click Register for Seminar tab above | Email for 45-minute briefing

​​ Two Ways to Pay: 

  • Payonline by clicking the PayPal Buy Now icon on the registration page
  • Pay by mail with a check by completing and mailing the registration coupon in our brochure

           (If name on card or check is not that of participant(s), please email attendee list to